POLITICS

Queen Should Give Tax Haven Cash To Grenfell Survivors, Says Labour MP

Critics line up to call for 'moral leadership' from the Monarch after Paradise Papers scandal.

06/11/2017 14:05 GMT | Updated 06/11/2017 15:55 GMT
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The Queen visited the Grenfell Tower site in June, but Emma Dent Coad refused to meet her 

The Queen’s investment in a tax haven should shame her into donating cash to Grenfell Tower survivors, Labour MP Emma Dent Coad has said. 

The Kensington MP said the Paradise Papers unmasked the gaping chasm between rich and poor and the Monarch - whose private Duchy of Lancaster estate invested £10m in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda between 2004 and 2005 - should try to make amends. 

Dent Coad’s constituency is home to the plush grandeur of Kensington Palace as well as the charred shell of Grenfell Tower, where more than 80 people lost their lives to a catastrophic fire in June. 

Vocal republican Dent Coad, who refused to meet the Queen when she visited the Grenfell site after the fire, said: “The Paradise Papers reveal the extent to which the richest continue to prosper at our expense. It is an old saying but it is a true one: there is one rule for the super-rich and one rule for the rest of us.

“It is shameful that millions of pounds from the Queen’s private estate has been sent offshore whilst some in my constituency line up at food banks.

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Emma Dent Coad has said the Queen must withdraw all funds from tax havens

“The fact that some of this money has been invested in the retailer BrightHouse - which has been criticised for exploiting thousands of poor families and vulnerable people - is also particularly insulting.

“I hope that the Duchy of Lancaster will reconsider this practice and withdraw from the alleged Cayman scheme.

“Decent people pay their taxes, give to charity, and consider investing in British industry rather than squirreling funds abroad.

“Perhaps some of this money could be used to assist those still left without a home, without food and warm clothing, and who are now losing hope after the Grenfell Tower fire.”

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The cheap cladding which encased Grenfell Tower allowed the blaze to spread rapidly

The tax haven probe also revealed the Duchy of Lancaster estate held investments in the off-licence chain Threshers and the much-criticised rent-to-own retailer Brighthouse, which was fined by the Financial Conduct Authority for not being a “responsible lender”. 

MPs have lined up to call on the Queen to “demonstrate moral leadership” and Labour has demanded a public inquiry into tax avoidance. 

Paul Sweeney, Labour MP for Glasgow North East, said: “One of the fundamental duties of a modern constitutional Monarchy is to demonstrate moral leadership in our national life, and these dubious tax arrangements send out a disconcerting message about the need for all citizens to fairly contribute to the public good of our civilised society. 

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Paul Sweeney says the Queen should show moral leadership

“I hope and expect that the Royal household will review and amend these financial arrangements as a matter of urgency so that they are beyond reproach.”

Northumberland MP Ronnie Campbell said: “Queen or no queen she should be aware of where her money is being put and if her advisers are not telling her where it has been put, she should sack them.”

Ian Mearns, Gateshead Labour MP, said the tax avoidance exposed in the Paradise Papers poses a “moral question”.

He said: ” Tax avoidance unlike tax evasion is not illegal but it is quite clearly using tax law for a purpose not intended by Parliament.

“I don’t think the Queen personally micromanages the investments made on her behalf but I’m sure she is aware that her investment managers use these tax avoidance schemes, that are just not open to the ordinary citizen covered by the scope of PAYE income tax and VAT etc.

“That to me is were this becomes a moral question.” 

Neil Findlay, Scottish Labour MSP, added it was “astonishing” the Queen had invested money in Brighthouse.

He said: “Brighthouse is a company that thrives by using high interest rates to exploit the poor and vulnerable. It is astonishing that those who are advising the head of state on her investments think it is OK to seek to make money from such a company.”